Last night, On the Square hosted its final Summer of Riesling Wine Dinner with Dan Melia from Mosel Wine Merchants.
I know summer ended on the 20th of September, but Stephen and I forgot so we let it end last night on the 28th. Of course, if you live in Tarboro or anywhere else in eastern North Carolina, you know very well that it still feels a heck of a lot like summer.
Dan Melia travelled from New York with an insane amount of insanely delicious wines, and our guests were educated and entertained for a solid two and half hours on the perfect trifecta of steep slopes, cool climate and slate-driven soil in relationship to Riesling. Dan could not have been any more hospitable, genuine or charming, and everything he spoke about was relayed with passion and excitement.
Of course, the best part for me was at the end of the night when he sat down at the bar with our staff and tasted through the line-up of wines, educating us as a reward for working hard and serving our guests.
When midnight fell, I began to turn into a pumpkin so I said I was going home to indulge in homemade cheesecake that one of my favorite friends had made me. Dan was staying with us so he said he would hit the road as well.
And this, my friends, is where craziness comes into the picture, a happenstance that can only happen when all the stars are in perfect alignment.
As we sat down at my kitchen table for one last conversation, I asked Dan where he worked in New York before Mosel Wine Merchants.
“Prune,” he responded.
For those of you who have never eaten at Gabrielle Hamilton’s lower east side restaurant, it is one of my all-time favorite brunches ever, and I am not alone in saying that.
But when Dan said Prune, I had this flashback to four years ago, when the night time girls of On the Square and I travelled to New York to celebrate a high school graduation of one of our longtime employees.
The plan for our group was to eat at Prune for Sunday brunch, the moment our cab came into the city from picking us up at Laguardia. I called because the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, and I spoke to a gentleman about us coming in with luggage and of course, to see if they could make an exception this one time and reserve us a table.
I will never forget how awesome this guy was on the phone. He told me he would put our luggage downstairs and hold it for us, and while he could not bend the rule on the reservations, he would work with us to make sure we would be seated as soon as possible.
I remember hanging up and thinking “What a great guy, he was so kind and accommodating and, wow, I need to be more like that when I answer the phone.”
And, of course, when we arrived at Prune that Sunday morning, six Carolina girls and a whole lotta luggage, the same gentleman who had been so accommodating on the phone, became even more accommodating in person.
He hauled all of our luggage downstairs to store while we ate the brunch of a lifetime, Bloody Marys and shots of Pabst Ribbon included.
We had the best time, and it all started with this amazing guy who clearly loves the hospitality industry.
Soooooooooo, to make a long story even longer, it will come to you as no surprise that while Dan is talking to me about being at Prune, I realized I knew his voice and his face long before tonight’s wine dinner.
I asked him did he remember six girls coming to eat there one Sunday morning four years ago, and all of a sudden, everything came into place.
“Inez!” he exclaimed.
“Dan!” I yelled.
The irony of that entire meeting reunited in Tarboro with our group getting to serve and pamper him as he did for us four years ago.
Again, it can only happen when a perfect trifecta occurs: great wine, great food and great company.
For those who would like to see the menu we served, see below:
Harker’s Island Oysters, Chicken Liver Mousse on Sweet Potato Chips, Tempura Shrimp, Pork & Apple Crostini
Peter Lauer Sekt, Saar NV
Lobster & Marscapone Ravioli
Butternut Squash Cream
Stein St. Aldegunder Himmelreich Kabinett-Feinherb, Mosel 2010
Immich-Batterieberg Escheburg, Mosel 2009
Crispy Prosciutto Chip
Clemens Busch Marienburg Fahrlay, Mosel 2008
Blackfin Tuna Au Poivre
Snow Peas, Whipped Potatoes
Peter Lauer Saar Riesling Barrel X, Saar 2010
Sliced Duck Breast
Autumn Vegetable Ragout, Cranberry Syrup
Gunther Steinmetz Kestener Paulinsberg Spatlese, Mosel 1990
Peach Coulis, Caramel Sauce
Dr. Loosen Eiswein, Mosel 2008